Which Digital to get for a techie?

I’m a 36 year old computer professional with advanced hearing loss. I’ve been wearing hearing aids since I was 13 years old, been through about 4 sets so far. I’ve always worn small in-ear aids, my current model being a standard Siemens digital that I’ve had to get rebuilt about 5 times. Once a year the mic seems to go out on me due to sweat or buildup.

I’d like to purchase a new set, I recently took these current ones again to have the mic’s rebuilt to a local guy whose FDA approved and has been in business for 30 years building custom digital hearing aids. He replaced the mics in about 20 minutes for me.

In the meantime, I want to get a new pair. I love the idea of bluetooth through my iPhone as I listen to music quite often, and want to get something like Siemens Aquaris. I’m a bigger guy so I sweat when doing any activity …

Now, today when I was talking to the guy who custom builds them, he said waterproof aids have been back and forth a few times and that I’d still have an issue with humidity with a behind the ear kind. Plus, Bluetooth is still relatively new and I would rather wait for an aid that has built in bluetooth without the need of a neck loop.

I have a severe hearing loss yet he told me he could build me a small in the canal style aid that would avoid a lot of the sweat issues. Those would be better for my situation than a behind the ear one.

He warrants his for 2 years… and does all repairs on site … which is a big plus to me. Cost is comparable.

I’m interested yet questioned … go with the big guys again, siemens, starkey, etc… or someone who custom builds them and works directly with his clients?

I am simply not a fan of back yard hearing aid manufacturers.

I’ve dealt with a few on my travels and the big problem is that these companies lack the resources of the big players.

It’s like computers, and I have a background in computer science myself. Some people build their own, and some people buy them ready made.

You may be one of the former, but you got to admit, nothing you ever built looks nicer than an iMac does it? Sure you could make one that’s faster and meets your needs, but in building a computer you can buy state of the art top quality parts, and put them in a case of your choice and know that unless there is an undocumented hardware compatibility issue, you can have a really nice machine.

However, when it comes to hearing aids while the receivers and mics are pretty standard, the main motherboard so to speak is not the same from one manufacturer to another. And advanced software comes from years of research and millions of dollars.

And that’s kind of where I come back to building a computer as an example. Imagine that you could build the computer of your dreams, but you had to write your own operating system for it. Wouldn’t that be a pain in the butt? Wouldn’t that make you reconsider?

In hearing aid terms you could put together all the right parts in a shell, but the major players are the ones who have written the great operating systems that can turn an ordinary hearing aid into something amazing. And I’ve yet to see a small local company achieve that.

I don’t think your guy must get out much… I’m a big boy and sweat just thinking about doing anything and I can’t figure out how a BTE/RIC could pick-up 1/10 the sweat as a CIC aid. I beenwearing Rexton (siemens) RICs for a couple of years and just picked up a new pair of Siemens just over a week ago and the Tek and miniTek both BT and TV just great. Which the newer miniTek I can walk all over the house and still pick-up the TV. I either have it on the arm of the chair, in the console of the car or in my shirt pocket.

You need an extra device for Bluetooth phone use for two reasons. One is bluetooth is too much of a power user to fit in a small hearing aid. Yes, there are some new standards that use less power but it may still be a while until a really workable bluetooth low energy (BLE) or a successor ends up in hearing aids (2 years would be my guess). The other reason you need a device is you have to have a microphone and of course the microphone has to have power, separate from the hearing aids.

Resound has one called the Phone Clip and it is pretty small and it is possible to clip it to your clothing, but I wear mine on a lanyard under my shirt. Works fine that way and I use it every day but it could certainly be improved. I’m guessing your FDA approved guy can’t do bluetooth so of course he’s going to say you don’t need it.

If it was me I would go with a real name brand with the features I wanted and not be tied to one individual. If you go with a regular audiologist that person will work directly with you to adjust the hearing aids and get them working just right. There are a lot of features in the new hearing aids that your guy just can’t match. For a start, look at this link. All major brands have their advertised features and a lot of it is just marketing, but they all do have some great things going on now. I’m very happy with mine.

That’s one reason I was “iffy” about this guy. He definately knew his stuff… how much was his, what is going into the components of these aids, what software is he using, etc…

Reading online again, Siemen’s Aquaris is sweat resistant as well… I really like this model, or possibly the Motion.

Another question I had is the quality of bluetooth music streaming through these… I’ve tried neckloops and they weren’t very good with my older model aids. I’m a audophile and a bass player in my spare time and listen to a lot of music … I have a bluetooth clipon dr-bt140q sony headphone set that sounds great…

These are bluetooth a2dp and take / receive calls in both ears … and sound great … better than any corded clip on or over the ear head phones I’ve tried … next to the large noise cancelling ones…

Yes Bluetooth is still new in hearing aids as I’ve read … I’m willing to try I think … But what’s everyones opinion on the best setup for streaming music so far?

That’s going to depend on your loss and the extent to which you want your ears occluded to keep in the low frequency output.

Music fidelity is never going to be perfect from a 4 mm x3mm driving diaphragm for all frequencies.

I’m new to hearing aids, just having picked up a pair of Unitron Moxi 12 BTE RIC HAs. I was skeptical about the sound quality of an iPod Touch playing through the HA bluetooth device, and that being transmitted by FM signal to the HAs. But, I was really surprised to hear how good it sounded! The bass reproduction was not as good as a nice set of ear buds, but there was some bass, and the midrange and higher frequencies sounded quite comparable to the ear buds. It was close enough that I was plenty satisfied listening to my iPod through the bluetooth device. The Unitron bluetooth device is called the uDirect.

Quality is not so good. You can definitely hear it fine but the quality is not as good as any decent ear buds. Hearing aids are generally to help you hear human voices. The bluetooth thing works better for phone usage and just OK for music streaming. I watch youtube videos on my phone and the sound quality there is fine.

You’ve heard the reasoning behind going with a mainstream company, but I want to weigh in on music on Bluetooth in HAs. If you are a techie, and really love balanced music that has any bass response at all, you will not get it through any HA with Bluetooth. Look at the specs on the HAs… they are not designed for deep bass. Even with those with a wider frequency range, there’s just not the umph on the bottom end. I have the newest from Sonic… the Flip 100s. My audi really brought up the bottom end on my Soundgate music program, and it still left me wanting… by a long shot. I love music and that has been a frustration for me. The music program on the HAs is very good for living room listening, movies, etc., but HAs just don’t cut it for serious music listening through an iPod type setup and BT.

Here are a couple things I have done.

  1. First of all, for years I have had excellent Ultimate Ears custom molded earphones. The EQ on an iPod/iPhone doesn’t do the job for my HF hearing loss. However, I’ve downloaded the EQu app for iPhone and it works very nicely for shaping the sound. There is another app that is more of a 10 band EQ and that also will allow for L/R balance shift, however, it’s much more difficult to smoothly shape the sound and I’ve really liked the EQu app more. About a month ago I emailed the developer and explained my situation and asked if L/R balance adjust was a feature they were considering. They responded quickly and said that in a few weeks they were bringing out an app designed for people with hearing loss. Nothing yet, but they are aware of the market. (BTW, be prepared for a sucking sound on your battery on your iPhone or iPod Touch - it really eats the juice.)
  2. I have been demoing several over the ears headphones that I can wear over my BTE/RIC HAs. My other headphones are on the ear phones and don’t work at all. I’m about ready to purchase the Bose AE2s. They comfortably fit over the HAs and give good sound from my iPhone without the need for EQ. There’s no feedback on my HAs and I’ve played the music loud in testing them just to see if there is a threshold. Your mileage may vary according to your ear/head size, etc., but it’s worth a try.

I have a set of Sennheiser MM400 BT headphones. I can’t wear them with my HAs on, but I’ve used them for listening to music or watching a movie on my iPad so as not to disturb my bride. They sound great using the EQu app to play the music. Not as good as directly wired, but very acceptable. I also use the app when I play music in bed. I have a sound dock since I like to listen to music and read before I retire. The EQu app brings back the detail in the music for me, since I always remove my HAs before heading to bed.

Just a few thoughts. Hope it helps…

Thanks guys …

I’ve cancelled my appointment with the custom guy. My appointment with my main audi is tomorrow.

So now there is another question with headphones and bte hearing aids … I see some have bte with receiver in canal … other’s are simply bte.

Again the phones I use currently are over the ear clip on Sony DRB140TQ.

These are simply great headphones, Looks like they’ve discontinued them, they were cheaper when I bought 'em 2 years ago.

Will these work with bte hearing aids or only bte with ric?

I can’t get headphones to work with my RIC style HAs. The output of the headphones doesn’t line up with the microphone of the hearing aid, so I’m just getting the sound with my natural hearing.

I have good success with my RIC, but the phones have to comfortably fit OVER the HAs. graflunds… The RIC is simply the speaker for the HAs. Non-RICs simply have a tube to channel the sound directly from the HA. Both types rely on the microphones to generate the sound. Typically, RICs are a bit smaller because the speaker is in the ear, as opposed to being located in the HA and channeling the sound. I’m not familiar with your headphones, but you’d have to try them. Not all over the ear headphones worked the same for me. Too tight a fit over the ear blocked the sound. The Bose seem wider with more depth… That’s why I think they work best for me… I can definitely tell that my HAs are being utilized in them. I tried muting them (have to take the headphones off because they block the remote signal) and putting them back on. The highs dropped out.

Thanks guys…

Had my appointment today, discussed my options with my audi.

We did a new hearing test and my hearing hasn’t changed over the last 7 years which is good. But it is also very severe. She was actually suprised how well I manage with the Siemens Infinity Pro’s I have now.

We discussed Siemens Aquaris… she couldn’t get a very good price on them compared to internet sales, called around to a few distributors and could still get about $2000 per aid for the 501’s. Online I could find 501’s for about $1500 per aid. I still have that option but we decided to go with Phonak Nios H20 III with a dome, not custom ear mold. The Phonak had more power than the Siemens, and the new ComPilot unit. These are water resistant and designed for children with an active lifestyle … I wish I had these around when I was a kid!

It’s all going to be experimental, I’m so used to Siemens sound having had 3 prior pairs that it will be new. I do have the trial period so we’ll see if they work. Anything will be better than what I have now!

My appointment is Monday for the fitting. I’ll get 'em then! I’ll post a review.

She called around to distributors to buy from them??? Meaning she doesn’t have an account with Siemens? What if she has a question during your trial?